Interviews

Scaling Innovation with Trends

In an exclusive interview, Sky Li, the Founder, and CEO of realme, speaks about the USP of his company’s products, the company’s plans for adding new products to its portfolio, and the company’s commitment to the MEA region

What is realme’s long-term commitment to the MEA region?
I recently released a letter on my Twitter account in August 2022, pointing out our recent global strategy in market cultivation, “Simply Better” or “craftsmanship” strategy, and e-commerce strategy, which means more local-oriented events and products. This is a commitment to our existing markets.

These are all aligned with our activities and plans in UAE, we want to commit further to the local market, by listening to the needs of UAE consumers and bringing here the products that fit their needs. For example, we brought our first tablet product here to UAE in August, which we believe meets the lifestyle of consumers studying and working here.

Meanwhile, we are also seeking more in-depth and long-term cooperation with local e-commerce platforms, we are experimenting to bring a few product lines that would be exclusive to only e-commerce platforms, doing so would allow us to provide more attractive prices to the consumers.

With our “craftsmanship” strategy, our R&D investment increased by 58% year-on-year, focusing on improving technology innovation. We are bringing our most premium flagship model ever GT 2 Pro to the UAE market soon. The phone features a top-notch Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, the first 2K AMOLED flat display, and the first 150° ultra-wide camera. The consumers in ME can expect to have a distinctive and smooth experience in photography, game playing, and video streaming, as well as be given a special eco-friendly option with an unprecedented bio-based polymer design.

realme started with smartphones, and accessories and you have now launched a tablet. Do you plan to add more product categories to your portfolio this year?
We announced our “1+5+T” strategy last year to cover major AIoT product types and build a full-fledged AIoT ecosystem, spanning smart TVs, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, wearables, and a vast number of smart gadgets and accessories under our TechLife ecosystem. These are other than the realme 9 Pro series, realme 9i, realme C35, and realme Pad that we have launched this year.

We are also planning to expand our product portfolio further in UAE by launching our most premium flagship GT 2 Pro in the near month. In addition, considering the advanced development of 5G in the Middle East, we are planning to bring a 5G smartphone priced under AED 750 this year as well.

What is the value proposition of realme, compared with its competitors?
At realme, we scale innovation with trends. We are the brand of choice for consumers who seek tech and trends. As a part of our tech-decentralization initiative, we equip our products across price segments with the latest technology, for example, this year we launched our realme 9 Pro in UAE in May, which was the first 5G smartphone with Qualcomm snapdragon processor for sale under AED 1000 in the market.

Not only does it have a powerful processor and equipped with 5G, but it also has an innovative Light Shift Design that can change color depending on lighting conditions, and realme is also the first smartphone brand to debut with the 9 Pro series on this year’s Paris Fashion Show runway by collaborating with Danish designer brand Heliot Emil. Therefore, if you are looking for a powerful smartphone with a trendsetting design, realme is the right brand to go for.

What sort of commitment do you offer regarding OS upgrades and security patches?
realme always keeps its eyes on UI using experience, providing seamless realme UI with the latest android features in terms of new design and privacy protection. For example, realme GT 2 Pro which runs Android 12 with realme UI 3.0 was one of the first phones to get Android 13 beta and will get 3 Android OS updates and 4 years of Android security patches. We will also release a new list of devices that will receive the Android 13 update in the next year.

We saw realme launch special editions through various partnerships. What sort of fan following do you have for the special editions and how are such partnerships chosen?
I recently pointed out our recent global strategy in market cultivation, which means more local-oriented events and products. This also means a closer relationship with local partners and a greater end-to-end product experience. realme aims to provide leap-forward performance and trendsetting design at reasonable prices for young people, so we will provide a more localized marketing approach as well.

We have a deeper understanding of our consumers in different markets, so we launched special editions accordingly. For instance, for young people who love anime, we cooperated with the famous comic IP Naruto, and for those who love gaming, we cooperated with the most popular mobile game, Free Fire. With our market cultivation strategy, more local-oriented products and marketing approaches could be expected.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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